Julie Harris, one of Broadway’s most honored performers, whose roles ranged from the outlandish Sally Bowles in I Am a Camera to the reclusive Emily Dickinson in The Belle of Amherst, died yesterday at her West Chatham, Massachusetts, home of congestive heart failure at 87. In a career of longevity and versatility, her roles ran the gamut from troubled tomboy to appealing ingenue to plotting older woman. Presidential wife Mary Todd Lincoln, poet Emily Dickinson and Shakespeare’s Ophelia were all played with panache and major verve. She won a record five Tony Awards for Best Actress during a stage career that spanned nearly 60 years and was honored again in 2002 with a sixth Tony, a special lifetime achievement award. In 2005, she received a Kennedy Center honor. TV audiences knew Harris as the scheming Lilimae Clements on Knots Landing and, in the movies, she was James Dean’s co-star in East of Eden (pictured), and had roles in such films as Requiem for a Heavyweight, The Haunting, and Reflections in a Golden Eye. But her biggest successes have been on the stage. “The theater has been my church. I don’t hesitate to say that I found God in the theater. God comes to us in theater in the way we communicate with each other… It’s a way of expressing our humanity.” She was truly one of the greats. If you want to see HOW great, here’s her reprised performance on stage as poet Emily Dickinson in The Belle of Amherst on Netflix.
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